(a degrading choice of cap, perhaps, but surely Barry cannot be expected to rock a Mitchell & Ness Bullets hat in public?)
If you type the phrase “Mayor Crackhead” into Google, the first search result that comes up is “Marion Barry – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.” In spite of this one-dimensional view of his long political history, former D.C. hizzoner Marion Barry — currently serving as a City Councilor for the District’s 8th Ward — is a sought after interviewee, with Hogs Haven quizzing the iconic politico on a number of Washington-related sporting topics.
KevinE: Dan Snyder recently won a lawsuit regarding the use of the name “Redskins,” from your youth and growing up, you played a part in the Civil Rights Movement and have had to deal with many race issues, what is your take on the “Redskins” mascot name and do you think it is offensive to Native Americans?
Marion Barry: I agree with the Native Americans. I think it’s degrading and disrespectful. This happened in a time when you didn’t have that kind of attitude going on…you know, an era that went on that should have been changed to another name. You know, it’s true, and there’s others, the [Cleveland] Indians and other places. That’s that. Now we have to figure out how we can get the Redskins back in the District of Columbia. I think it’s going to be very, very difficult. For one, Snyder has a long term lease, he’s invested millions of dollars in his enterprise. He’s making money, and to come back to the district is my view wishful thinking, even though I’d like it to happen. It’s wishful thinking.
KevinE: You were Mayor for multiple Super Bowls. Do have any good stories from those times?
Marion Barry: Well, probably the most exciting one was when we played in Tampa Bay…when we played Oakland. Lots of activities outside of the game. Friday and Saturday. A lot of friends about. It was just a great time. That’s when Jack Kent Cooke was really riding high [laughing].
KevinE: I know back then it was very social where politicians mingled with players often. Was that the case?
Marion Barry: Oh yea. Very much. In fact I stayed at the hotel with the Redskins players. That gave me a chance. Oh yea, I knew a lot of them personally.
KevinE: The Fun Bunch?
Marion Barry: [laughing] Yea! hehe. I remember the John Riggins years too!! [laughing] He was on board at Tampa Bay. In fact, a friend of mine and I were sitting at this bar/nightclub celebrating Friday night and he kept saying “Riggins who?! Riggins who?! I said, “Man, stop all that noise, you know? Put your money where your mouth is. So I put down a $100.” … “Riggy who! Riggy who! Riggy who! Riggy who!” And I said, “Let’s go one more!” and he said “No, I’m not going…I’m already dead because I lost my money” because Oakland beat us. But the whole atmosphere was different then then it is now. Not just because of the situation. NFL is more business now than the will to play and the passion. With these millions of dollars out there.